Japanese watchmakers Citizen are no stranger to innovation, nor are they afraid of dropping the mic on the pricing that comes with it. However, due to their reputation for producing affordable mechanical watches, releases like their US$90,000 Citizen Tourbillon Y01 come as quite a shock to enthusiasts. With the unveiling of the all-new The Citizen Calibre 0200, the manufacturer has disregarded consumer perception in favour of positioning, suggesting a bold new direction that aims to elevate the brand.
Designed in collaboration with La Joux-Perret S.A. in Switzerland, the new Calibre 0200 – and The Citizen Mechanical Model NC0200-90E watch that comes with it – focuses on accuracy, precision, reliability, and beauty. The time-only movement incorporates a number of firsts for the brand, including a free-sprung balance wheel resistant to shocks, which promises better isochronism and more stable timekeeping, and an escapement made using the LIGA fabrication process to produce ultra-precise parts and microstructure parts.
Technical jargon aside, the result is a movement with 60 hours of power reserve and an average daily accuracy of -3 to +5 seconds, exceeding chronometric standards, designed and assembled in-house by Citizen. Haute horologists La Joux-Perret S.A. (also owned by Citizen Watch Group) have applied their expertise in the finishing department with the mattifying process ‘satinage’ applied to the bridges and diamond-cut outer edges for additional sensory wonder.
The Citizen Mechanical Model NC0200-90E which the new Calibre 0200 arrives in, is equally impressive. Brushing of the 40mm contemporary steel case, with handsome integrated lugs, offers a cohesive aesthetic with the movement which can be admired through the sapphire caseback. A black sand-ripple pattern dial provides contrast for the sharp dauphine-style hands and elegant sunburst subdial.
Innovative, modern, and masculine, it is, unquestionably, a very handsome proposition. The sticking point for the majority, however, is the price. At US$6,000 (I’m yet to find the local pricing) it is a lot to pay for a Citizen branded watch – the Citizen that we know. To bridge the gap between aspiration and reality, Citizen also launched a facelifted Series 8 sports watch for 2021. Although appearing more cumbersome, it possesses the same design language as The Citizen Mechanical Model NC0200-90E and arrives at a far more accessible price point at US$2,000. Of course, it presents less mechanical savoir-faire for buyers but it is a necessary stepping stone for the general consumer.
While I admit the price is optimistic and the release should be somewhat limited, early adopters – happy to support Citizen’s attempt to bolster their cache (as Grand Seiko began a decade ago) – are buying into an exciting evolution of the brand, and in doing so, are sporting an oh-so-subtle flex to all that consider themselves watch aficionados.
As the first Japanese player to ever win a Grand Slam singles title, it makes perfect sense for Citizen to align itself with Naomi Osaka.